JUST IN: CSOs give FG 14-day ultimatum to release Sowore

Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore
Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore

A coalition of over 200 civil society organisations (CSOs) has given the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari a 14-day ultimatum to show commitment to the rule of law or face mass action and civil disobedience in the country.

Addressing newsmen, the leaders of the coalition demanded, among others, the release of the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore and others being held without justification across the country.

The joint statement was signed by Dr. Abiola Akiode-Afolabi, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre and Transition Monitoring Group (TMG); Osai Ojigho, Amnesty International, Nigeria; Idayat Hassan, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and ‘Yemi Adamolekun, Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE Nigeria).

Others, who signed the statement titled: “Nigeria’s troubling state of affairs”, were Lanre Suraj, HEDA and Peoples Alternative Front; Kola Ogundare, Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP); Jaye Gaskia, Take Back Nigeria; and Deji Adeyanju, Concerned Nigerians.

According to them, mass action was inevitable if the government failed to accede to their demands and that the ultimatum commenced on Tuesday December 10.

“Tomorrow, December 10, the world will celebrate Human Rights Day. It will also be marked in Nigeria as we review the crackdown on the freedom of the press; proposed bills to curb dissent and a general environment of shrinking civic space of which the recent actions of our security agencies are just an example.

“Two key issues are of concern to us, namely: Attack on Our Judiciary and Attack on Free Speech and Pattern of Silencing Dissent. We demand the following: President Muhammadu Buhari to show accountability as President and Commander-in-Chief and address the nation on his commitment to the rule of law and human rights.

“The release of all illegally detained persons by the DSS. That the government obey all outstanding court orders. An investigation of the officers who violated protocol and the circumstances leading to Omoyele Sowore’s second arrest.

“The unconditional release of Omoyele Sowore per his bail terms. If these five demands are not honoured within 14 days, we call on patriots to join us as we occupy the National Human Rights Commission offices across the country, as it is legally mandated to protect rights and it reports to the Presidency,” they said.

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the CISLAC Executive Director, urged Nigerians to see holding government accountable as a collective responsibility, “because all of us are in danger”.

He said: “And this same people who are perpetrating this brutality today, yesterday they were crying. In 2015 when DSS invaded APC’s data centre, they were crying. In fact, Lai Mohammed was shouting that this is the worst thing that has ever happened in Nigerian history. But today they all keep quiet, in fact justifying this gross, violent violation of fundamental human rights in Nigeria.”

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